Articles Tagged with: student learning

My Student Blew Me Away!

Developing games to support our mission of bringing the benefits of game based learning to the classroom is often a challenge.  What should be the next game we create?  How do we balance education with fun? How do we help teachers get the professional development they need to use games in the classroom effectively?  The encouragement we get from our users, reviewers and testers give us constant reasons to face these challenges, but it is the personal success stories that remind us why we do what we do.

This article is about Lisa Lewis, an education consultant that only recently decided to explore game-based learning.  She chose our top selling game, Mayan Mysteries™, to use with one of her students.  Mayan Mysteries has been recognized by reviewers as a best-in-class educational product, including a run as the #1 featured product for ages 9-11 on the Apple App store.  Here, Lisa shares how the experience of using Mayan Mysteries was not only eye opening for her, but also such a rewarding way of learning for her student.  If you ever thought the value of game-based learning in the classroom was a myth; this story might make you realize it is time to explore.

From: Lisa Lewis – Education Consultant

To: Dig-It! Games

A student I tutor, who is currently a 5th grader reading on a 3rd grade reading level, and is riddled with all types of learning challenges, showed me a thing or two the other day.  I thought I would try something different with him and I introduced him to Mayan Mysteries on my laptop.  Thinking to myself, there is no way that this student will be able to read, let alone comprehend the detailed information, I was hesitant to give it a try.  But I also thought how would I know if I didn’t give it a try.  The main question in my head was “How is he going to be able to maneuver his way through unfamiliar territory?”  I certainly was not going to be any help, because this was so far from my own comfort zone.

As the student logged into Mayan Mysteries, I could tell he was intrigued by the graphics.  His face lit up, as it has never done with me before.  He is so accustomed to our structured lessons each week.  We practice old and new vocabulary words, we read a text together and talk about it, and then we write using a prompt and a graphic organizer.  I didn’t scaffold anything for the student about Mayan Mysteries.  I merely said, “see what you can do”.

As he entered the Mayan civilization, he clicked through a few things to get to the actual listening and game part.  He listened intently to the voice as it read the very complicated text to him.  He watched with bated breath and totally disregarded anything I said to him.  I was merely giving him encouraging thoughts as he continued to listen.  Once the reading section was completed, the student proceeded to click on things and move them around on the screen according to the directions he was given.  Once he had everything in the places he believed they should be, he clicked something and the words “You Were Successful” came up on the screen.

 

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He continued on for another two parts of the game and was once again successful with both parts.  I stopped him for a moment to say congratulations.  I also asked him how he knew what to do.  He couldn’t really tell me how he knew what to do.  I was assuming it was merely instinctive for him to know what to do.  I told him I was proud of him for maneuvering his way through the three parts that he had gone through.  I told him I knew it wasn’t easy, but that he did a great job.

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I asked him what he thought of the game.  He said it was different than most of the games he had played.  I also asked him if he learned anything.  He said yes, but had a difficult time elaborating about what he had learned.  This is pretty typical of this student.  He usually gives one or two word answers and has a very slow processing time, as well as a severe memory issue.  He cannot recall for me what he has done earlier in the day at school, unless it is related to his Chrome book or what he has done during recess.

I consider this to be a big Aha moment for me and for the student.  He realized that he could accomplish something new and different.   He also realized that video games could be both educational and fun.   I learned that after all these years working in large groups, small groups and individually with children, that kids can still blow me away with what they can do when it comes to technology.  Just another teachable moment for me!


Learn more about game-based learning from our FETC 2016 workshop slides


3 Cheers for STEM Night!

You’ve probably heard the acronym STEM used more and more lately in relation to education. You probably also know that it stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. But what do those subject areas really mean for education? Why are they important? How do they help kids learn and grow, in and out of the classroom?

 

A few years ago, Education Week published an article online stating that “STEM is more than just a grouping of subject areas. It is a movement to develop the deep mathematical and scientific underpinnings students need to be competitive in the 21st-century workforce.” That’s also what President Obama said in 2010 when he set a clear goal for STEM education: motivate and inspire American students to excel in STEM subjects so that within the next decade, they will no longer be in the middle of the pack for STEM achievement but leaders of a competitive global community.

 

“This movement goes far beyond preparing students for specific jobs,” the Education Week article goes on to say. “STEM develops a set of thinking, reasoning, teamwork, investigative, and creative skills that students can use in all areas of their lives.”

 

A school STEM Night is a great way to include families, educators, and the community in supporting students’ ability to do just that. On Tuesday, March 22nd, Bethesda Elementary students in grades K-5 get a chance to display their STEM projects at the annual STEM Night celebration. With the help of teachers and parents, students chose topics they were interested in learning more about. They applied the scientific method to a hands-on investigation that produced results. They worked individually and in teams to build creative displays that will communicate their discoveries to the STEM night audience.

 

STEM education is close to our hearts at Dig-It Games. We’re a company that uses technology to produce video games that teach and support these vital subjects. We are deeply invested in the national dialog on STEM, and we believe in the power of game-based learning to promote STEM education in schools and new and fun ways.

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We loved being a part of Bethesda Elementary’s STEM night last year. Dig-It staff members Dayle and Steve ran our exhibit table as well as checking out and admiring students’ STEM-related projects and getting a chance to interact with parents, educators, and especially kids. Their favorite part of the night was seeing how excited students were to play, and meeting parents who were just as excited as the kids! Some kids ditched their parents for the games right away, some kids didn’t want to let go of the games, and some kids competed with their parents! In fact, there was so much interest that we ran out of devices for visitors to play on.

 

This year, we’re honored to be invited back again, along with C3 Cyber Club, KID Museum, Under the Sea‘s mobile aquarium, and Montgomery County Public Library. We’re bringing more devices and more DIG folks. We will also be exhibiting some of our unreleased titles before they are seen by the general public. Students can comment and give feedback on a game-in-progress, which is known in the industry as beta testing, an essential part of product development. This little bit of behind-the-scenes insight fits right in with the STEM movement’s goal of motivating kids to pursue intellectual curiosity, and equipping them for hands-on, innovative problem-solving.

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“We love events like this where we interact with our end users,” says Dig-It Games president Suzi Wilczynski. “Being around students, parents, and teachers helps us to make sure that our games are meeting the needs of those whose opinions we trust and follow. It also supports our belief that game-based learning enriches education by encouraging critical thinking, independent learning, and the joy of intellectual discovery. Bethesda Elementary’s STEM Night is an event we look forward to attending.”

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“We’re thrilled that Dig-It Games has again partnered with us,” says Kenneth Tercyak, a co-organizer of the event. “Bethesda Elementary students enjoy learning about computer science and its application to game design. It’s a great way to help build their interest in STEM and STEM careers.”

 

Follow STEM Night as it happens at https://twitter.com/bethesda_es.


Creative & Talented: Meet Nicolas Baker, Winner of the Roman Town Video Trailer Contest

Last month, the Roman Town™ Video Trailer Contest came to an end when the talented and innovative Nicolas Baker was chosen as Dig-It! Games’ winner. Since then, he’s visited the studio and hung out with the Dig-It! Games team, received the prize of an iPad, and downloaded it with all of Dig-It! Games’ apps. We spoke with Nicolas, 14, about his creative process and what he loves about our games.

Nicolas Baker Win

How did you develop your entry for the Roman Town Video Trailer Contest?

I started to brainstorm story ideas. At first, I had this idea for a spy mission, in which spies are trying to steal the iPad with the game on it. Then I realized that the storyline took too much time, so I decided to focus on screenshots of the game.

I used Final Cut Pro at school in the media lab. The contest was announced after final exams were over, so I spent class time working on the project, as well as after school. I did ask my media teacher for any additional editing software for the iPad, but the iMovie app did not give me as much freedom as I wanted.

I used screenshots of the game itself mixed with A-Roll of my sister and dad playing Roman Town. I wanted to give the audience a clear indication of who was playing the game, so I used an above the shoulder shot with my sister to show it was a young child and which game was being played. Then with my dad, I wanted them to know it was an adult—but they already knew the game, so I could just show him without the iPad screen.

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How much time did it take you to finish the project?

Working one day each week, it took me about a month to complete.

Do you want to be a filmmaker when you grow up?

I’ve spent three years of my middle school experience learning about media production and video editing, but I’m really interested in animation and art. I’d like to be an animator for Disney. After I did this project, it got me more interested in video editing and I’d like to take those skills, along with web and graphic design, to start a freelancing business.

What made you want to enter the contest?

I got the e-mail announcing the contest. I’ve known about Dig-It! Games for a while. I like their apps—they’re cool and fun. I realized I had plenty of experience to make a great trailer; it gave me the chance to take my learning experience and put it into a professional game trailer.

How did you feel when you won?

I was at the pool when I found out. I was checking to see if my parents were in touch, saw the subject line of the e-mail which said Congratulations, and I was really excited. I wasn’t sure if I’d gotten first place or second place at the time, but then I read through the entire e-mail and was ecstatic.

How did your parents react?

I called them and my mom first thought I was joking, but then I read through the whole e-mail with them. They’re proud of me.

What’s your favorite mini-game in Roman Town?

My favorite subject at school is math, so I like the translate Roman Numerals game.

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Would you be interested in becoming an artist at Dig-It! Games someday?

I really like the studio. Winning was the third time I’ve been there. I was able to talk to the artists and game designers, and they got to show me some of their animation software. I’d like to intern at Dig-It! Games or work part-time when I get older.


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